Monday, January 26, 2009

Layers that make a Life: E

I believe that our lives are made up of layers. Stories upon experiences upon reflection upon relationships upon, upon, upon. You get the idea. I have been doing quite a number of writing exercises of late. Some are light, some are fluffy, some are blog fodder, others are deeper and more meaningful. They are all getting better!

WARNING: If you see the title Layers that make a Life, the post will be one of those deeper and more meaningful posts. It may be controversial. It may be argumentative. It may be contemplative. It may be sad. It may be filled with humour. It may be all of those things, and more, all at once. One thing it will be is adult fare.

With that being said, here is my first attempt at writing something with a bit more bite:

Layers that make a Life: E

I was always the girl looking for a good time.

There were always plenty of boys, plenty of booze, plenty of parties. A good time was always easy to find. It was so much safer to live a life out loud than deal with the demons inside. Who would imagine the party animal surface was to compensate for my constant fear of rejection? No one, and that was a good thing!

Over the years there have been a few relationships that have resonated with the quiet, thoughtful, scarred person inside. These people always scared me to death as I was simultaneously attracted and repelled. Attracted because I knew, innately, that they were good for me, and repelled for that exact same reason.

I have recently almost re-connected with one of those few people on Facebook. It is one of those “friend suggested” situations. The person doing the suggesting would have no idea the effect of seeing that name would do to me. With trepidation I hit the “friend request” button. After all, what was the worst that could happen? I’ve heard “no” before.

The story:

Many years ago, as a university student, our lives wove in and out over the course of a couple of years. We were peripheral participants in each other’s lives. Though, at the same time, this relationship resonates still.

As a 17-year-old freshman, there was a week where the girls were expected to ask the boys to scheduled events. Never one to back down from a challenge and surrender my party girl status, I took the dare, offered by the girls in my dorm, to invite E, the most popular boy on campus, to an event. A little perspective: E was adored by the girls, admired by the boys: tall, dark, handsome with a winning smile and a winning record as a player on the school hockey team. You get the idea.

Once I took the dare fear gripped my heart as I realized that I actually had to follow through. Before I lost my nerve, I took myself over to his dorm and knocked on his door. Because I am really a wimp, I explained that I had taken this dare and if he wouldn’t mind, would he come with me to whatever the activity might have been and then he would be done with me. I appreciated him doing me this favour and being a good sport about not making me look foolish. I’m sure I rambled without taking breath for a good ten minutes. He very patiently waited for me to finish.

Then the unexpected happened: he completely turned the tables on me and suggested that since I was the first to ask, why didn’t he just go to all of the activities with me that week?

I was thrilled, appalled, intimidated and joyous. Not only was E a rock star, he was kind, thoughtful and just plain lovely. So, for a week we went everywhere together; we didn’t miss one activity. It was a blast. I have vague memories of chocolate chip cookies and a frigid midnight date at the fountain.

Our week, indeed, our whole relationship was completely companionable. I don’t know that we kissed – ever – let alone held hands or anything so physical. In my late teens and twenties sex was a recreational activity; certainly nothing more than that. I don’t know that I ever had a sexual relationship with anyone who meant anything to me on a more fulfilling level until I was a fully formed adult. And even at that I’m not sure I ever found the balance between the spiritual and physical until I got married.

As you can imagine, here I was this “fresh-ette” going everywhere with “Mr. Big Man on Campus” exclusively, for a whole week, did not set well with a few; maybe even more than a few. I was unaware of the animosity since I was living on a cloud, literally floating, every minute for a week.

That last evening I managed to return earth-bound, with a thud. That last evening was the dance. E and I went off in different directions with the agreement that we would meet up back at the dorm later. Sounded great. I got back to the dorm only to find that one of the many women in his estrogen-filled world actually managed to ‘get’ him that evening. I was upset, but even then I was more upset because he broke his word than what he was actually doing. Doesn’t that sound silly? My feelings were hurt because I wasn’t able to put a nice big bow on my beautiful week. I was crushed.

Here it is, a couple of decades later and I can still feel the disappointment.

At the crack of dawn the next morning, I headed over to his dorm next door and to his room to return his coat. Ever the gentleman, he had given me his jacket to keep me warm the evening before. I knew that if I didn’t head over to return it right away, I’d lose my nerve and he’d never see that coat again. I tossed it at him as he opened the door; over my shoulder, I wished him a nice life and he hauled me, unceremoniously into the room. He was deep down (and really, you never had to look that deep) a sensitive dolt who was just as upset as I was that I was hurt. How can you possibly stay angry with a guy like that?

I was never angry. Just disappointed.

Over the next few months we went our separate ways. That chapter was over. The almost-blissful week in October of my freshman year is not much more than a blur in my memory, but a good memory nonetheless.

Over the course of time our lives intertwined. After all, on a campus of 1,500 students it’s hard to hide from anyone. We would bump into each other and I would go watch his hockey games. There was not much else to do in New Brunswick on cold winter evenings! Everything was always cordial. E always held a special place in my heart and he knew it.

In mid-winter of my second year there was a banging on my door. E was in a sad state. He was just back from a rough hockey game some hours away and the bus had just returned to campus. He did not want to go home. He was having a rough time with his fiancé and wanted to crash at my place. The girls on my floor were very accommodating finding me an extra mattress. E was exhausted after talking for a bit, about nothing in particular, he crashed on my bed and I flaked out on the extra mat on the floor.

This happened more regularly than not for quite a while. I did my best to offer no opinion on his domestic situation and kept the door open, the extra mattress under the bed and the sheets clean just in case he required a safe haven with little notice.

Then E stopped coming by.

I heard through the grapevine that he was back with his fiancé and that they were expecting – though the accuracy of the grapevine was always open to debate. I had a few of my own issues to deal with and didn’t think much of E and his situation for the next while. That was until I was visiting some girlfriends in Nova Scotia. Word was that E and his fiancé were getting married that weekend. With trepidation, I wished him well, quietly to myself; and, the girls and I drank a toast to him at a local pub. After a few drinks, as often happens after a few drinks, one of our group decided we should head over to the motel where they were having the night before festivities. As we pulled in, my girlfriend was looking for a place to park the car. One of E’s friends came over and we rolled down the window. We were told to leave, as I was not welcome to be there.

Huh? Me? Why me?

It was then I was told that E was wavering and if he saw me there he’d probably call the whole thing off. I thought that was a ridiculous notion. Flattering in a weird way, but still silly to consider. After all, except for the three girls in the car with me, who knew about our odd little friendship? Then I looked at this boy desperately trying to keep us away, I didn’t press and headed off to a bar where we were welcome and I proceeded to get sloshed and sloppy with my good girlfriends to convince me that my backing off was a good thing.

The next day, the four of us could be found in the library across the street from the First Baptist Church watching everyone arrive and watching as E and his new wife as they left, happily, down the steps.

So, here it is, years later and I’ve sent my “friend request” through FaceBook. Who knew pushing one little button would bring up memories like this? I am so hoping to hear that he has had a wonderful life filled with love and adventure.

I wonder if E will accept it?


Brynn said...

Oh Lee, I am so hoping this is a "To be continued". Please let us know if he "befriends" you!

jillconyers said...

Please keep us updated :) I look forward to more of your "Layers"!

I received your kind and thoughtful gift in the mail a few days ago. I've been trying to come up with the words to voice my appreciation for your kind words and the wonderful book. Thank you just doesn't seem to be enough. I took a picture of it for my Week 4 of Project Gratitude and if you don't mind I'm going to post about it on my blog (lmk if you rather I didn't).

Have a wonderful day Lee and don't forget to let us know about E :)

L~ said...

yes, please make this a to be continued...and reading your story dredged up lots of old feelings and memories...a nice re-visit. :)

Jack said...

Beautifully written!

This is such a great saga and I do hope you keep us updated as to what E has been up to over the years.

Great job, and happy Monday :)

MidniteScrapper said...

I'm with the other girls, Lee...I will stay tuned!
Beautifully written. =]

Martha said...

Aw come on ladies...let's just run over to facebook and stalk Lee's friend list and see if there is a new (but old) friend named E?
(giggle giggle)

Seriously, what a well written blog post...isn't it interesting what little event opens up the floodgates of our memory?

But you? A party girl...never would have guessed that (snicker snicker)

McKay Family said...

Me too...I'm on the bandwagon for part well written. This could have been inserted into my life just a few weeks ago when I got a friend request from an old flame. It opened up so much...before I even realized it, tears were streaming down my face.

Kyla said...

WOW! When are you coming out with the book?! Can I get a signed copy? ;)

Seriously . . . wonderful journaling. Very well written. I can just FEEL the emotion in this post.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful slice of your life . . . it brings back several memories of my own, though mine wouldn't be nearly as well written.

shirley said...

Lee, I really enjoyed reading your story - so well written and compelling. I think we've "all been there" one way or another in the various relationships over the years. I do want to know if E accepts your FB invitation.